A name that is entered into a computer (e.g. as part of a Web site or other
URL, or an e-mail address) and then looked up in the global Domain Name
System which informs the computer of the IP address(es) with that name.
The product that registrars provide to their customers.
A name looked up in the DNS for other purposes.
They are sometimes colloquially (and incorrectly) referred to by marketers
as "Web addresses".
The authoritative definition is that given in the RFCs that define the DNS.
Domain names are hostnames that provide more easily memorable names to stand
in for numeric IP addresses. They allow for any service to move to a
different location in the topology of the Internet (or another internet),
which would then have a different IP address.
Each string of letters, digits and hyphens between the dots is called a
label in the parlance of the domain name system (DNS). Valid labels are
subject to certain rules, which have relaxed over the course of time.
Originally labels must start with a letter, and end with a letter or digit;
any intervening characters may be letters, digits, or hyphens. Labels must
be between 1 and 63 characters long (inclusive). Letters are ASCII A–Z and
a–z; domain names are compared case-insensitively. Later it became
permissible for labels to commence with a digit (but not for domain names to
be entirely numeric), and for labels to contain internal underscores, but
support for such domain names is uneven. These are the rules imposed by the
way names are looked up ("resolved") by DNS. Some top level domains (see
below) impose more rules, such as a longer minimum length, on some labels.
Fully qualified domain names (FQDNs) are sometimes written with a final dot.
Translating numeric addresses to alphabetical ones, domain names allow
Internet users to localize and visit Web sites. Additionally since more than
one IP address can be assigned to a domain name, and more than one domain
name assigned to an IP address, one server can have multiple roles, and one
role can be spread among multiple servers. One IP address can even be
assigned to several servers, such as with anycast and hijacked IP space.
Return to Articles Home
Save time and secure your web designs with Edit Blocks. Let your clients edit their own sites.
Quick Domain Search